Millions of Sandy relief money still not spent
by Andrew Pavia
Jul 24, 2013 | 519 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One thing became certain in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, that the New York City community knows how to come together after a disaster. With volunteers being turned away and people refusing to take any more donations of clothing, many turned to donating money.

Now, some local officials are looking into where that money went.

Attorney General Eric Schniderman released a primary report into how 89 charitable organizations have spent money they raised in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. It is estimated that more than half a billion was raised in total, and that more than $238 million of it was not spent as of April of this year.

The report, entitled “Charitable Responses to Hurricane Sandy,” also looks into whether some of the funds went to relief efforts or to organizational costs.

“It’s essential that both the donations and the distribution process be completely transparent and above board,” said Schneiderman. “The charities themselves acknowledged to us that 42 percent of the money they raised still haven’t been spent. That’s their own reporting.”

At a recent Woodhaven Residents' Block Association meeting, State Senator Joe Addabbo addressed the issue head on.

“Some of you might have contributed to these organizations,” he said. “But I also mention it here because some of us have been a victim of being approached by an organization claiming their charitable and they’re not.”

Addabbo said donors should check out charitable orqanizations before making any contributions.

“The block association collected a lot of blankets and a lot of money,” said WRBA board member Alexander Blenkinsopp. “We are not one of those unscrupulous organizations. Every single penny was donated.”

One member of the audience stood up and said that she was there when the organization was taking monetary donations and ensured that Ed Wendell, the president of the WRBA made every aspect of the process transparent.

“For the most part, I think that some of these organizations simply misled people into thinking that when they donated money online, on the phone or through the mail that it was going to go to communities like Breezy Point,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich. “The fact that they are still sitting on that money, to me and the residents of my district, is unconscionable. It just doesn’t make sense and it’s wrong.”

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